Targeted truancy interventions

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities, promote healthy childhood environments, and prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Interventions seek to address truancy, including remedial academic work, academic tutoring, career and technical education, case management and counseling services, parent outreach, and enhanced attendance monitoring practices
  • In-school policies seek to modify existing procedures that exacerbate truancy, such as suspensions
  • Common alternatives include in-school suspension, detention, and alternative schooling programs
  • Court-based programs generally coordinate services for youth, often involving a social worker or case manager

Evidence and impacts


Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice

  • Across sixteen studies, targeted truancy interventions improved attendance by an average of 4.7 days, though post-intervention absenteeism still remained above desirable levels
  • After implementing anti-truancy programs, such as ACT Now, some schools recorded a 64% decrease in the number of truancies
  • Intervention programs have shown success in decreasing dropout rates in addition to truancy rates
  • Programs which are culturally sensitive and include academic enrichment techniques show more success in lowering truancy rates for all students

Best practices in implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Analyze root causes of a student’s poor school attendance, determining if family, school, economic, mental health, or community-based obstacles are contributing most to attendance challenges before implementing specific interventions.
  • Encourage active partnerships between school districts, specific school leadership, law enforcement, and community-based organizations in addressing truancy issues.
  • Schools should closely monitor attendance and advise parents immediately of unexcused absences and negative consequences stemming from chronic absence.
  • Clearly state goals and objectives to parents and community stakeholders; provide consistent, written guidelines on program procedures, like the minimum number of absences before action is taken.
  • Ensure that communications with parents are conducted in the family's native tongue.
  • Provide annual training for key school administrators and allocate staff to work with schools and justice system agencies to coordinate community-wide responses to truancy.
  • Foster an environment grounded in mutual trust and respect between students, families, and the truancy intervention program.